Another drive out west, another dead end. Those tight-wad guards at Corcoran State Prison wouldn’t even let me ask THEM questions, and they sure wouldn’t let me see any of the inmates. To think, I had the real Joseph James DeAngelo Jr, the Diamond Knot Killer, the Visalia Ransacker, the Golden State Killer himself, just a hundred yards away from me. And those busybodies wouldn’t even let me ask about his schedule. I never thought I’d be jealous of a prison guard.
California’s great this time of year but I’m never going to make any progress on my book without real interviews. I can read all the articles and police reports I want—but who cares? Any expert has already seen all those and I think I’ll turn into a killer myself if I have to listen to another hour of armchair-psychologists stroking their own egos on a podcast. Real detective work means real interviews, but serial killers aren’t exactly easy to chat with.
I am going to write the best book ever written about serial killers. No matter what.
Stopped at a little town called Hinckley in Utah to send some postcards. I was hoping they’d have a museum or memorial or something—this is where Arthur Gary Bishop himself was born! But they don’t even mark the house. I spent a while trying to find it but no luck. The town’s tiny enough that I had a chance but no one wants to talk about him. They just look at me like I’m the crazy one. You kill five boys and then history just forgets you, I guess.
I did find some postcards in their gas station but they’re just pictures of the state parks. I’ll send them anyways, to let people back home know where I am. I know some of them doubt that I’m ever going to finish my book. But I’ll show them. I just need to find one that I can interview. I know every killer worth knowing over the last five hundred years in America but I’m missing that final piece. I need to understand why they do it. What drives someone to turn their murderous ideas into reality? What does it feel like, to finally act out their forbidden desires? To understand that, I need to talk with a real killer. If only they weren’t so hard to find.
Dahmer, Gacy, Bundy, Holmes, you know what they all had in common? They were determined! I have to be the same way.
I figured, since I was swinging through Nebraska on my way back east, I should look into Starkweather. He’s not really my type—more of a "rage-filled killing spree because human lives have no value" guy. I prefer the ones who work slower, methodically. Six kills over a decade is more impressive than a dozen in a week. Anyone can shoot a few people and run from the cops. I’ve driven so many of these backroads in tiny midwest towns that I know how easy it would be to disappear. Wear gloves, stab the first victim in a town too small for a police department. Then steal their gun and use that. Anyone could rack up a bodycount with that strategy.
The self control to kill, get away with it, then… wait. Wait two months, or a year. Then kill again. Some of these guys wait a decade between kills. I can’t understand it. I mean, imagine doing your favorite thing. The thing you’re compelled to do. The reason you’re alive.
And sure, no one else can understand why you’re doing it, and they try to stop you. But it fills you with life. Then, after feeling that high… you wait. You wait for years. Like I said, determination.
So anyways, I looked into Starkweather but there’s no museum or even a plaque. Whatever—he’s not that interesting to me. Plenty of angry 19-year-olds want to kill everyone they see. Of course a few of them do it. But while I was asking around town, I got a lead. An actual lead, like I’m an actual reporter. This local guy, Jack, is a bit of a killer fan himself. He came to this area twenty years ago, tracking a lead on the Zodiac Killer. Although he hasn’t been able to dig up anything new on Starkeather, he did give me his Zodiac contact.
So now I’ve got a name and a town—Zed, from Amble’s Down. It’s supposed to be a nice place, near the middle of Nebraska, population 13,757 according to the 2010 census. Apparently Zed runs a junkyard there. He left quite an impression on Jack. Apparently he knew things about Zodiac, impossible things. So that’s my next destination. Haha—determination. Zed wouldn’t talk to this small-town shopkeep, but maybe he’ll talk to a big-shot writer from New York. If I could find even a single new lead on the Zodiac case… I’ll get a Pulitzer for sure.
I had a good long drive across Nebraska to think about it. Amble’s Down is big enough to have a baseball team and a Walmart but there’s no mention of it in any of the Zodiac documentaries. I’ve seen all the movies and read all the fan theories, yet I’ve never heard of this place. That shop owner, he kept circling back to one thing Zed told him. “You’re not worthy.”
Worthy… what an interesting word. Worthy of knowing the truth? Worthy of the Zodiac’s attention? Now Zed was young, apparently, too young to be the Zodiac himself. Maybe my age. But could he know him? It isn’t impossible. Prime suspect Allen died in ‘92 but none of the hard evidence suggested him. If the Zodiac was 30 when he made his first kills, he’d only be in his 80s now. He could still be alive. I would give almost anything to meet him.
Once I get into Amble’s Down, I’ll send out a wave of postcards. I can’t give away this secret, not until I check into it. But I have to admit, I’m already getting excited. This could be my big break, the BIGGEST break in the Zodiac case ever. But I can’t explain it yet. Just a hint. To get everyone back home excited. I’ll show them that I haven’t been wasting my time.
If I do find him… it almost seems like a shame to share. I mean, he’s an old man now. His days of crime are behind him. Everyone has doubted me for so long, why should they get to hear the full story? But I’m getting ahead of myself. This Zed could be another dead end. Only one way to find out.
Invalid Secret Code, try harder.